The cliché of an evil billionaire includes a sea of blithering yes men, nodding incessantly and always telling the evil billionaire how brilliant they are, and how intelligent the choices they’ve made make them appear to the public. Most evil billionaires would claim they hate “yes men,” but if a “yes man” is able to disguise their true nature and seem like a friend, they can get away with it and wind up high in the executive rankings of that evil billionaire’s corporate infrastructure. Vince McMahon is a unique evil billionaire, in that while he may not be too evil in real life, his character isn’t that far from reality, and the qualities we’ve described so far both fit the evil character Vince plays on television and the perhaps simply eccentric billionaire McMahon actually is in real life.
Vince McMahon fits the archetype of an evil billionaire so well, the sports entertainment world even has a special word for yes men, that Vince more or less reappropriated with that meaning: stooge. Not all of the people we’re about to mention have played the stooge role on television, but a few have, and most of them have at least appeared as suit-wearing WWE executive officials who broke up fights, stood at ringside during important matches, and supported McMahon and his lackeys throughout the years or even decades. Another thing the people on the following list have in common is that they all entertained long and storied professional wrestling careers, usually in WWE, showing that perhaps in this case it pays off to reinforce the boss on what a great job he’s doing. Keep reading to learn about 15 WWE employees you didn’t know were Vince McMahon’s “yes men.”
A big part of the reason Kane has been one of the most enduring figures in WWE history was noticeable from the very second Kane made his on screen debut. Vince McMahon was commentating Badd Blood 1997 when the Big Red Machine first stepped into a WWE ring, and fans could already hear the incredible enthusiasm McMahon had for the man who would become one of his loyal employees, screaming at the top of his lungs, “That’s gotta be, that’s gotta be, that’s gotta be KANE!” It could be fair to guess the main reason McMahon was so excited was that he already knew Kane was going to be a consummate yes man, or as Glenn Jacobs would probably prefer we refer to him, company man.
Kane has long been outspoken about the fact he’ll do anything asked of him, and as long time fans know, that’s included some pretty stupid ideas over the years. Worst of all came before McMahon invented Kane, and forced Jacobs to perform as the Fake Diesel and Isaac Yankem. Despite these terrible characters, and the fact the wrestling landscape could have allowed him to succeed elsewhere at the time, Jacobs has since said in interviews he never once considered leaving WWE. Kane will always do whatever McMahon wants him to do, and he’ll probably always have a job as a result.
14. Jim Ross
Calling Jim Ross a yes man may be a little controversial, in that the legendary WWE broadcaster was famous for speaking out against the way WWE treated him during his time working for them, especially near the end of his tenure with the company. In fact, JR often clashed with McMahon both on television and in real life over the direction of the company and certain WWE superstars the two didn’t always see eye to eye on. However, the fact remains that Vince always won these arguments, and JR would go on television the next day and present the story McMahon wanted him to tell with a smile on his face. JR arguably took more punishment to his reputation over the years than any other WWE employee, and yet if asked, he’d most likely walk back into the company to call Raw next week if given the opportunity.
The reason JR may not be entirely appropriate for this list is that he isn’t so much a Vince McMahon yes man as he is a yes man to the wrestling industry, willing to do whatever the boss wants him to do. Vince was JR’s boss for several decades and put him through hell, but JR rarely complained aside from the few times the storyline demanded him to, so we think it’s fair to say JR was closer to a McMahon stooge than most people would likely be willing to admit.
13. Arnold Skaaland
When Vince McMahon, Jr. purchased WWE from his father Vince McMahon, Sr. in 1982, the wrestling world was in for an incredible series of changes, but a few things about WWE would stay the same internally for as long as a man named Vince McMahon was in charge. One thing in particular that would never change was the loyalty a handful of men had to WWE and supporting the McMahons in every way imaginable, and one of the people who had been helping them from the absolute beginning was Arnold Skaaland. Skaaland is better known to fans as “The Golden Boy,” and as the manager of Bruno Sammartino and Bob Backlund. What less fans know is that behind the scenes, Skaaland had always been involved with the expansion of Vince, Sr. and then Vince, Jr.’s empire.
Stories actually paint Skaaland as somewhat of a prankster, as well, and wrestlers like Roddy Piper have claimed Arnold would team with Andre The Giant to perform pranks on the superstars throughout the ‘80s. Part of the reason Skaaland could get away with it was his good standing with Vince, and the fact Vince never forgot how Skaaland had always supported his father was no doubt the source of that loyalty.
12. Captain Lou Albano
Captain Lou Albano actually started his career as a wrestler, and achieved his first success in the wrestling business working for Vince McMahon, Sr. in a tag team with Tony Altomare known as The Sicilians. The tag title reign occurred in the 1960s, and Albano’s long career continued with WWE from that point on until his retirement in the mid ‘90s. Albano was perhaps the most hated manager for several decades, at least in WWE, and even in the territorial era when managers and superstars would travel all over the country on a weekly basis, Albano almost never left the WWE due to his incredible loyalty to the McMahon’s and his loud opinion that they were the greatest wrestling promoters on the planet.
Like a few of the other oldest entrants on our list, Albano was far more of a yes man to Vince, Sr. than he would be for Vince, Jr. Nonetheless, the Captain was always willing to make a comeback to WWE and continue being wonderfully ridiculous for many years in an increasingly bizarre capacity. Albano wouldn’t have continued working for the McMahon’s and doing whatever they wanted him to for so long unless he gave Vince, Jr. a similar level of respect he gave to his father, and Captain Lou probably nodded his head in the young McMahon’s direction countless times as a result.
11. Gorilla Monsoon
Respect is something that often goes both ways, and that was definitely the case when it comes to referring to Gorilla Monsoon as one of Vince McMahon’s yes men. Gorilla was one of the few figures in the wrestling industry who probably could’ve told Vince he was being a moron for whatever reason and not only have gotten away with it, but somehow ended up with Vince giving him a sincere apology. McMahon, like the rest of the wrestling universe, had nothing but the utmost respect for Gorilla Monsoon. That doesn’t mean, however, that Monsoon wouldn’t have done anything for McMahon, as well, just like he would have done for McMahon’s father.
Gorilla Monsoon was one of the few initial shareholders in WWE prior to McMahon purchasing the company from his father. When Vince, Jr. was consolidating his power, Gorilla sold away his shares in exchange for a promise of a job for life, and that promise was granted to the delight of all concerned parties. Gorilla was often the voice of reason and all that was good in WWE at this time, performing lead announce duties on virtually every WWE broadcast of the era. However, this is where his abilities as a yes man come into play, as the lead announcer is the one telling the fans exactly what the owner wants to hear. Gorilla couldn’t have had the position for as long as he did without being willing to say whatever Vince wanted him to say, and that’s why he wound up on this list.
10. Harvey Wippleman
Harvey Wippleman only had a short tenure as a manager in WWE, but in this time, he managed some of the biggest superstars of all time. Of course, we’re talking literally—Harvey’s first client in WWE was Sid Vicious, followed by Kamala, and then Giant González. These wrestlers shared impressive frames, but their time with Wippleman was actually quite unmemorable, leading to most fans remembering Harvey better for his brief foray into the ring. Unfortunately, this was also pretty much a dud, as it featured the near death of the original WWE Women’s Championship when “Hervina” dressed up like a woman and became the only man to win the title.
Wippleman’s time on camera may not be the most flattering altogether, but he’s also managed to maintain more than a 20 year career working for WWE behind the scenes, as well. Wippleman describes his own job as basically being the backstage gopher for live events, seeking out whatever props or special items are needed to further the storylines. Interviews make it seem like he loves his job, and looking at things in the grand scheme, that job isn’t only being McMahon’s yes man, but a yes man for every WWE superstar.
9. Tony Garea
Modern day wrestling fans may not recognize Tony Garea, and now that the original WWE World Tag Team Championships are being forgotten, it’s quite possible Garea will continue to fade out of people’s memories as the years go by. Those that remember the first belts can tell you Garea was a five-time Tag Team Champion, with wrestling legends like Haystacks Calhoun, Dean Ho, Larry Zbyszko and Rick Martel as his partners. Garea’s initial reign with Calhoun began in 1973, one year after making his WWE debut, and he’s stayed with the company in various positions ever since.
For many years, Garea was one of the most noticeable WWE officials who would break up fights and appear backstage to give news to Vince McMahon when something unexpected happened on television, very similar to his job in real life. Garea retired from the ring in the 1980s, and has been a WWE road agent making extremely sporadic appearances ever since. With career longevity like this, it’s obvious he gets along pretty well with Vince. Given Tony’s roles on television as a person constantly groveling to Vince and doing his bidding, it’s not hard for fans to stretch the sycophancy into his real personality, as well.
8. Michael Cole
While everyone on this list has either done something or had a story about them that proves they were Vince McMahon’s yes men in one way or another, with Michael Cole, we have actual recorded proof of him repeating the words “yes sir” when he and the boss nearly had a disagreement. Cole has been the announcer of WWE Raw since 2008, and was the lead announcer on SmackDown for the decade prior to that. All lead announcers need to be yes men insofar as they become the avatar for the boss and need to spread the company agenda for the entire show, but Michael Cole still takes the ass kissing to a special level if the leaked video of his “conversation” with Vince is believed to be a regular occurrence.
Cole not only was forced to repeat “yes sir” over and over when Vince told him he was wrong, but Cole has for a long time been known to diligently follow the intense and specific notes that McMahon and the production team are giving the announcers prior to every broadcast. It may have been slightly possible for an announcer to succeed in WWE without being a yes man in the past, but Vince’s micromanagement has made things reach a point where constant agreement with the boss is practically a job qualification.
7. John Bradshaw Layfield
Michael Cole got his job as the lead play-by-play announcer on WWE Raw thanks to his position as Vince McMahon’s number one yes man, and his ability to tow the company line for multiple hours per week. Cole was paired with the equally sycophantic John Bradshaw Layfield for several years, but recently the two were split up with the revived brand split, presumably so Vince’s avatars can each have their own show to shut down anyone who disagrees with him on all WWE television.
Whatever the case, the main difference between Cole and JBL is that while Cole simply nods his head and agrees with whatever Vince says, Bradshaw generally sees eye to eye with McMahon on everything in the first place. That doesn’t change the fact he continues to smile a big, politician’s smile and reaffirm Vince of that fact every chance he gets, though. JBL is also a performer who was loyal to WWE for decades despite a tumultuous wrestling landscape and his own career not always seeming successful, so his loyalty to McMahon has likely existed within him from the very start.
6. The Big Show
It’s often said that outsiders don’t get a fair shake in WWE, and that was especially true prior to the days WWE held a near monopoly over the wrestling industry. Vince McMahon has also preferred his own creations to people and ideas that had been successful otherwise, so when a superstar who made their name in NWA or WCW jumped over to WWE, they weren’t going to have a great chance at becoming a true success in McMahon’s company. One stark exception to this rule was The Big Show, who was completely a creation of WCW, the only initial change in his character when he jumped to WWE being that in WCW, they were calling him The Giant.
It took several years for The Giant to truly become The Big Show and end up as a success in WWE, and at certain points it seemed like he was going to be another victim to McMahon passing over his rivals. However, by always agreeing to McMahon’s terms and doing things however the boss wanted them done, The Big Show was able to create a resume in McMahon’s company as impressively large as his size.
5. Michael Hayes
In terms of his in-ring career, the greatest contribution Michael Hayes gave to the wrestling world was no doubt his work as the leader and most constant member of The Fabulous Freebirds. Whether feuding with the Von Erich brothers or simply raising Southern fried hell in whatever territory they happened to enter, the Freebirds were loud, fast, and out of control, with a wild style taken from rock and roll. Terry Gordy and Buddy Roberts were the better wrestlers, but Hayes was the best talker, and as a result he was the member everyone remembers. It is also thanks to Hayes’ gift of gab he’s virtually untouchable within WWE management, or perhaps we should say he’s applied that gift of gab to telling the McMahon family how great they are on endless occasions.
Hayes joined WWE in 1995, and for reasons that are still unclear, he did so as the classy announcer Dok Hendrix. It was clear from the start Hendrix was another avatar for McMahon’s thoughts, as Hayes dropped everything that made him standout as a superstar to tow the company line and support McMahon’s ideas both on screen and off. Hayes has also been accused of making racist remarks, enabling alcoholics, and being an alcoholic himself, but Vince continues to keep him around, probably thanks to the Freebird’s unique ability to call McMahon a genius on every WWE retrospective where the idea comes up.
4. John Laurinaitis
John Laurinaitis was one of the least likely people to become a Vince McMahon yes man throughout his career, but once he assumed the role, it was clear the wrestler formerly known as Johnny Ace was perfectly suited for the role. Ace debuted in the late 80s teaming with his brother, and soon grew to national prominence when he ditched his brother for Shane Douglas in The Dynamic Dudes. The Dudes were heavily maligned for their goofy personas, but Ace still managed to become a big start by leaving the United States for Japan and turning into a highly lauded technical wrestler. He retired from the ring in 2000 and became one of the last executives in WCW, and was hired by WWE after WCW went out of business.
Laurinaitis started in WWE as a road agent, which is the position most of the men on this list gradually settled into as their careers subsided. However, Laurinaitis was so good at appeasing McMahon he very quickly rose to the position Vice President of Talent Relations, which transferred into an on screen role with the same title. Laurinaitis had to have been saying something right to the McMahon’s behind the scenes to get the role, but the real telling part of his resume is what happened after he was demoted back to a road agent in 2012. If the story isn’t familiar, that’s because Laurinaitis actually didn’t do anything, merely accepting his fate with a smile and continuing to happily work for the McMahon’s to this day
3. Gerald Brisco
We’re nearing the end of our list, so it’s time to get into the classics. Gerald Brisco was one of the two initial Vince McMahon Stooges, as he became to be known alongside Pat Patterson during the late 1990s. Brisco was a legendary wrestler in his own right, often teaming with his even more legendary brother, former NWA World Heavyweight Champion Jack Brisco. The Briscos wrestled all over the world for the NWA, all the while gradually gaining control of one of the most successful territories of the era, Georgia Championship Wrestling. They sold GCW to Vince McMahon in 1984, and Gerry has been working for Vince ever since.
Jack Brisco denied claims that a condition of the sale included a promise of lifetime employment for him and his brother, and indeed Jack never took on a particularly heavy role with WWE. Gerald obviously did, however, and his lifetime employment seems all but a promise at this point, regardless of whether or not that was always the case. Both Briscos remain intensely respected throughout the wrestling communities, but it’s clear which one of them was willing to tell Vince McMahon what he wanted to hear based on who he had standing by his side at the peak of his power.
2. Pat Patterson
It’s no secret that Pat Patterson is one of the most respected superstars in WWE history. Even without his status as the first ever Intercontinental Champion, Patterson has booked major WWE matches and angles for decades, and at times been called Vince McMahon’s right hand man. In fact, Patterson was even the unofficial Vice President of WWE for many years, and was referred to as such on television during the various scandals suffered by the company in the early 90s. Obviously, Vince has a great deal of respect for Patterson, but as this list has shown several times, that respect can easily go both ways and make Pat seem like a bit of a yes man at times.
Patterson is one of the true legends of the industry, but he was also the sillier and more embarrassing stooge of the Brisco/Patterson team. Pat was regularly the brunt of the most offensive and disgusting jokes of the era, and actually endured a running gag where he apparently couldn’t clean himself after using the bathroom. Nonetheless, Patterson always played his dumbest roles with a big smile, happy to do absolutely whatever Vince wanted him to do. That enthusiasm likely held true tenfold behind the scenes, as Patterson could never have been promoted to such a high position in the company without constantly telling the McMahons what they wanted to hear.
1. Kevin Dunn
This list could end up being fairly controversial, in that we accept people generally don’t like being told their favorite entertainers are brownnosing yes men. To be clear, whether or not any of the superstars on this list achieved the success they did by telling Vince McMahon what he wanted to hear shouldn’t be taken as any sort of indictment against them, as it’s just part of what you need to do to get ahead in the wrestling business. That said, it’s a little bit harder to defend the actions of Kevin Dunn, who even plenty of insiders seem to agree is a toxic presence on the wrestling industry. Dunn has been the executive producer of Monday Night Raw, SmackDown, and WWE Pay-Per-Views for the past several decades, which many feel is solely due to his strange, sycophantic relationship with Vince McMahon.
Kevin Dunn isn’t exactly an untouchable figure in the industry, as plenty of wrestlers and personalities have spoken out about their distaste for him and his production methods. Jim Cornette is probably the most vocal, but plenty of other names including Paul Bearer, Jim Ross, Kevin Owens, and now even Triple H have all made it clear they believe Dunn is hurting WWE far more than he’s helping. And yet, somehow, Vince remains a strong supporter of Dunn, such to the extent some of these people would complain it seems more like Vince is Dunn’s yes man than the other way around. Most likely, the status is mutual, or at least was for long enough that Dunn eternally earned McMahon’s trust, and more importantly, his ears.